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Study Shows Drop In San Diego Trolley Trips

— Volatile gas prices boosted public transit ridership in most of the country last year, but not in San Diego.

Volatile gas prices have boosted public transit ridership in most of the country. But not in San Diego, where trolley trips were down nearly 5 percent last year.

A nearly 5 percent drop in trolley ridership in San Diego drove a slight decrease in overall transit ridership, according to a study by the American Public Transportation Association.

That same study found public transit trips in the U.S. increased by 1.5 percent in 2012. Many rail and bus services showed double-digit increases that year compared to 2011.

Ridership for the Metropolitan Transit System, or MTS, which serves San Diego, was down 0.22 percent. Trolley trips, meanwhile, fell by 4.71 percent.

Rob Schupp, a spokesman for the MTS, said one reason for this has been construction aimed at improving light-rail service.

"We've had a lot of construction impacts," said Schupp. "We've actually shut down the blue line on weekends. So those have an impact on our ridership numbers."

Schupp added that the MTS's trolley rider estimates, which formed the basis for the 2012 numbers, are also not the best method for counting trips.

"We now have automated passengers counters on board our trollies," he said, "so we're changing that methodology to a system that we think might be more accurate and reflect a truer ridership for the trolley."

The American Public Transportation Association ridership numbers for the North County Transit District, serving north San Diego County, were more reflective of national trends. Overall transit use for the NCTD went up 3.13 percent.

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